Every year, Top Chef does a Quickfire challenge where they blindfold the chefs and have them identify or distinguish between ingredients. We love it, we wait for it, and we occasionally dream of having a game night at home where we do the same thing. This season’s edition had the contestants tasting ingredients like soy sauce, maple syrup, olive oil, and caviar to determine which of two is high end and which is less expensive.
Sometimes, in war, the mighty fall… We’re skipping right to the next page to discuss the winner and, more importantly, the surprising loser. Come! We have to say, we thought the judges would keep Dale based on the fact that his body of work over the course of the season was obviously stronger than Lisa’s. And maybe his bad attitude and inability to handle pressure maturely was his Achilles heel, but she’s no picnic in the kitchen, either.
The Fruit Slinger blog, one of our favorite summertime reads, is back for another season of commentary from the front lines of the Chicago farmers’ markets.But the Fruit Slinger doesn’t just sell the fruit – he knows a thing or two about preparing it, too. Below, he’s shared a salad recipe that highlights our current favorite ingredient: Strawberries!
Americans have a vacation problem and here’s what it is: We can’t get to Xi’an to eat hand-slapped biang biang noodles for a week and eat cochinita pibil pulled from the ground on the Yucatan peninsula and enjoy an Argentine parillada feast with endless enormous steaks. Two weeks a year just isn’t enough time. Two weeks, if we can get it, is barely enough to visit one of these food paradises, not to mention all them.
If you’re one who likes to spend lunch at a cafe, Chicago’s First Slice Cafe is a good choice, especially if you like to end your lunch with a slice of pie (and really, who doesn’t?). Located in the Lillstreet Art Center, the cafe shares a space with the gallery store where you can find one-of-a-kind dishes and serving pieces made by artists who have come through the center.
Looking to expand your grilling repertoire but not sure where to start? A grilling class might be just the thing. Chicago cooking schools are firing up their grills this month and covering a variety of topics, from meats and marinades to vegetables and wine pairings.Here’s this month’s lineup:The Wooden Spoon (5047 N. Clark) offers several hands-on grilling classes throughout the month of July: Couples’ Grilling: Light My Fire! 6:30 p.m., Thurs.
Who: Jana Kinsman What: Bike a Bee Where: Chicago, Illinois Whenever I’m lucky enough to see beekeeper Jana Kinsman, she’s always sharing something with me: half her cookie, knowledge about bikes, butter and bees or an adorable, hand-drawn doodle. Jana is an illustrator, beekeeper and graphic designer in Chicago.
Who: Mike Bancroft of Co-op Sauce What: Hot sauce on a mission! Fifty percent of Co-op Sauce proceeds go to fund nonprofit arts and culinary education programs around Chicago. Where: Chicago, Illinois As someone who likes her chilaquiles soggy with salsa and needs more than cheese on my enchiladas, I was interested when Co-op Hot Sauce starting popping up all over Chicago.
Who: Greg Laketek of West Loop Salumi What: Salumi Where: Chicago, IL Greg Laketek grew up spending his summers in northern Italy surrounded by family, beautiful scenery and all the other things that make you wonder why you haven’t packed your bags and played out your own version of Under the Tuscan Sun. “My grandfather would take me around to his friends’ farms where they would make salumi, cheese, bread, wine — that’s what I remember growing up.
Who: Greg Laketek of West Loop Salumi What: Salumi Where: Chicago, IL Yesterday we talked with Greg Laketek of West Loop Salumi in Chicago. Greg left his job and made a flying leap into making authentic Italian salumi right in Chicago. Here’s a look at how West Loop makes their salumi, and how they think about the process. Much of West Loop Salumi is made with one hundred percent certified Heritage Berkshire pigs. Grass fed beef is imported from California for year-round access.
Who: Greg Laketek of West Loop Salumi What: Salumi Where: Chicago, IL This week we’ve been visiting Greg Laketek at West Loop Salumi, a maker of authentic Italian salumi in the heart of Chicago. But now that you’ve heard Greg’s story and had a peek into how the salumi is made, you’re probably hungry to eat some! Here are a few tips from Greg on what to look for in these Italian cured meats, and the best ways to serve them for snacking or a party.
A recipe for vegetable skewers with muhamarra – our new favorite dip – from Supernatural Cooking by Heidi Swanson sent us to Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood this weekend. We were in search of one authentic Middle Eastern ingredient in particular – pomegranate molasses. But as usual, we found many more irresistible buys on a small strip of Kedzie Avenue.
My steakhouse skepticism runs deep. I love a good steak, but rarely want to endure the stuffiness of a traditional steakhouse that comes with it. In the past, there were only two reasons I’d visit a steakhouse: to take advantage of someone’s generous expense account or if I was going on a date. But when new steakhouses started to get buzz near my home in Chicago, I was hungry, and curious about what I was missing. A lot, apparently, I learned after eating at five of them.
In the United States of Pizza, crust is a mark of origin. Cracker-thin means California, one step thicker signals the coal-fired ovens of New Haven, while blistered and thick-enough-to-fold-n’-go means New York. Deep-dish, of course, hails from Chicago, and like many New Yorkers I didn’t understand its charm. With a daughter attending college in Chicago, though, I’ve had the chance for plenty of location taste testing.
Chicago deep-dish pizza is a uniquely American dish that has proven challenging to replicate at home. This is not an imitator recipe; it is a modern interpretation with a serious homage to the past and a crust that is worth every minute of your time. This crust is inspired by the buttery, light crusts of Chicago deep-dish pies, with enough real butter to make Lou Malnati’s proud.
Who cooks and eats here: Ellen & Greg Gartland Where: Chicago, IL Rent or Own? Own Ellen and Greg Gartland’s simple and beautiful kitchen is a result of the pair’s creative approach to renovation. “Rustic elegance,” might sound like an oxymoron, but that’s exactly what the Chicago couple achieved in the design of their loft.
Who cooks and eats here: Victor Wasserman and Rajiv Pinto Where: Chicago, IL – Andersonville Rent or Own? Rent I’m no stranger to Victor Wasserman’s garden. All summer long Victor and his partner, Rajiv, entertain friends for picnics and outdoor “movies in the garden.” Their garden is more than a gathering place, though: the abundant produce also makes its way upstairs to their delightful and eclectic kitchen.
Who: Julia Stotz and Brian Guido, both photographersWhere: Wicker Park, ChicagoThe first time I met Julia and Brian I was a friend’s guest at a brunch of over 20 people. The two kept everyone’s glass full, while all the guests got to work in every corner of the spacious kitchen preparing their own entrees to share.
Julie Morelli and Andy Schwegler are the witty and creative minds behind Chicago based print shop Nourishing Notes and boutique design firm Letterform. Their mission is simple, “We believe there’s nothing better than food, family, friends, and laughter.” The two met in in design school and have been together for ten years, and married for two. A truly collaborative pair, they share a business, home and love for cooking.
We’re talking dessert this week, and what goes better with something sweet than a good cup of coffee, or maybe some tea? In Chicago, one of our favorite sources is The Coffee & Tea Exchange, a quirky little corner shop with a great selection.Located in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, The Coffee & Tea Exchange offers a wide selection and plenty of charm. Jars of teas, herbs and spices line the walls while coffee beans are stored in large barrels in the center of the store.
Although Kansas City is known for its abundance of meat and potatoes, we also have a hidden gem of an Asian grocery store. Although it smells a little strange and unfamiliar when you first walk in (hey, we’re honest), they have tastes and flavors that can’t be found anywhere else in the city. We brought our camera along for our last visit to give you a peek inside!The Chinatown Market in Kansas City, Missouri is located in the River District along the edge of the Missouri River.
Top Chef Stephanie Izard is a little obsessed with goat. Perhaps it’s because her last name is a type of Pyrenees mountain goat in French. Or maybe she just finds it delicious. Stephanie stopped by the new Kenmore Studio in Chicago last night to make a batch of Salted Goat Caramel – a sweet/savory sauce that could be served with a variety of dishes. We’ve got the recipe below.
The long-awaited Chicago French Market opened its doors yesterday at the Ogilvie Transportation Center. We were there bright and early to check it out.Earlier this week, we took a walk-through with market operator Sebastien Bensidoun, whose family owns more than 95 indoor and open-air markets in the U.S. and Europe.
We spotted these giant ponderosa lemons at the Chicago Flower & Garden Show last weekend and nearly squealed with delight.A lemon tree? That can grow in Chicago? Well maybe, maybe not.Ponderosa lemons are considered a lemon-citron hybrid and average 2 to 4 pounds, although they’re sometimes called “5 Pound Lemons.” The peel is thick, bumpy and round, with no pointed tip.They are less hardy than other lemon varieties but grow well in containers.
The Outdoor Film Festival returns this week with 1957’s “An Affair to Remember,” starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. For this week’s menu, we’re sailing through the French Riviera along with the characters. Food is mentioned in the early minutes of the movie as a news announcer discusses the engagement of playboy Nickie Ferrante (Grant) to a wealthy (and apparently attractive) heiress.
With this post we welcome Joanna Miller, who is filing some correspondent reports from Chicago. Give Joanna a warm welcome there in the Windy City! We’ve long dreamed of growing our own fig tree, but living in Chicago, we assumed it would take a move to the West Coast to make our dream come true. Little did we know the fig tree would come to us.
Watching Top Chef last night, we were reminded that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Or its language. Andrew, the contestant who seemed like a freewheeling time bomb during Episode 1, actually turned out some impressive dishes, including a yuzu gelee “glacier” and a squid ceviche with tapioca. Wonders never cease.